Our country is a nation with a sad history in that we are divided up into North and South. Families have been torn apart and they no longer know if their family members are dead or alive. Countries such as Germany, Vietnam, Yemen, and Austria once were divided countries. However, they have been reunited. Germany was reunified by the West, absorbing the East, and Vietnam was reunified under Communist control, as they say.
There are many other opinions that our country should try to unite by whatever means are necessary. One idea is through peace and the other through war. In the midst of all this a striking event has occurred that caught everyone by surprise. It was the death of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean supreme commander. On December 17, 2011, the world was focused on North Korea. The world couldn’t guess what North Korea was planning to do and every nation was on alert. Rumors of a war breaking out caused by the North had been going around for a long time. Our country had been affected by this the most since we are right beneath them, and due to the death of Kim Jong-Il there were numerous concerns that North might strike soon. This sudden provocation of North Korea or peaceful reunification stories are often spoken of.
There is a saying, ‘If you know your enemy and yourself, you can win every battle,’ and in order for us to accomplish this we must know more about North Korea. So I have written a history of North Korea from Kim Il-Sung (The founding Leader) to Kim Jong-eun.
After Kim Il-Sung’s death in 1994, his son Kim Jong-il was immediately placed as the supreme commander of North Korea. As such, Kim Il-sung passed on his power to Kim Jong-il and now it has happened again. There has never been an autocracy like this in the world. Kim Jong-eun has already been selected as one of the top ten dictators in the world. Some are calling it the Kim dynasty. Let’s find out more about the three leaders of North Korea.
The beginning of a Dynasty
Kim Il-sung had been supporting communism ever since he was in middle school in Manchuria in the 1920s. Anti-Japanese fights developed and he was even arrested by the Japanese authorities for six months. He moved to the Maritime Province since he was being chased by the Japanese punitive forces, but eventually came back with the Soviet army. Kim Il-sung entered North Korea and immediately became the power and a major force. He took the lead as a socialist and established the nation and the military as the top priority. This happened while the South Korean government was formed through Rhee’s (Lee Syung-man) campaign and Kim Gu’s campaign. As Kim Il-sung took office, the Korean War was over on July 27, 1953. The next day he was called a hero, the highest honor in North Korea. This led Kim Il-sung to his supreme position and thus began the Kim Dynasty in North Korea.
Kim Il-sung's time was divided largely up into three-stages. The first phase was from liberation to the 1950's. This was a violent revolution period to purge all his opponents. He went to extraordinary lengths to keep his power and resembled kings from the Joseon Dynasty era. The second phase was during the 1960's, which was the era of conversion from capitalism to socialism. He preached that human history was about materials and class and in order to maintain a strong society, Communism must be formed. In North Korea education meant brainwashing. The third and final stage was during the 70’s. During this period, North Korea had taken their own positional change within the communist bloc and international relations. As a result, support now came from the Soviet Union as China started the Cultural Revolution. After that Kim Il-sung emphasized his Juche Idea, a new independent idea. Kim Il-sung trained his son as his successor following the one family system, allowing his son to gain political experience.
Even though Kim Jong-il did benefit from his father’s teaching, he was also very bright. He had a talent when it came to politics and it is said that he was also a great movie director. Kim Jong-il has demonstrated exceptional talent in multidisciplinary to the North as the second generation leader. Kim Jong-il is a man of our generation in history. He had been building the current North Korea to what it is since 1994. Kim Jong-Il has established North Korea as a threatening country through his developments in nuclear bombs. He has paved the way so that the dictatorship is fixed and the people of North Korea think alike. He has been viewed as a hero even after death. It has been three months since he has passed and he is still being talked about through the news and the internet. Hence it is important to find out more about Kim Jong-il.
He was the first child of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jung-suk. He became a member of the political party, “the Korean Worker’s Party,” before he turned 18 and became an instructor in three years. Unlike his son, Kim Jong-Il had waited a long time to become his father’s successor. He had worked extremely hard to reach the top and worked for 17 years to be accepted by his people. In 2000, he had the first summit between North and South with former president Kim Dae-Jung and did it again in 2007 with former president No Mu-Hyun. However, his dictatorship didn’t come without controversy either. He did various nuclear tests that caught the world’s attention and ordered the attack at Yeonpyeng Island. He also did a lot of foreign activities with other countries as well. He met with China on numerous occasions, but when it came to the United States there were always a tense vibe between them. In 2008, he had a stroke and decided that it was time to name his successor, which eventually became his son. The public began to notice certain things about him and even speculated that his health was in decline. Countless media outlets across the globe reported the status of the leader and it became a big issue. Then came December, 17th, 2011, Kim Jung-Il was on his way to an inspection on a train when he died. The cause of death was myocardial infarction, just like his father. His body was buried in Geumsusan commemoration palace alongside his father, Kim Il-sung. The whole world focused on Kim Jong-il after his death. Then suddenly the attention went to his successor and son, Kim Jong-Eon. Every action of Kim Jong-eun was posted in every newspaper.
Kim Jong-il’s son and the new ruler of North Korea, Kim Jung-eun is the second son of Kim Jung-Il’s 4th wife Go Yung-hee and he was born in 1983. He was not well known when he was young and he used a lot of aliases to cover up his identity to study in Switzerland. Korea recently shot a documentary on Kim Jong-Eun and in the documentary interviews of Jong-Eun’s former classmates were shown. They said that he was very competitive and he had leadership skills. The media’s attention was focused on his looks as well. They said that he looked a lot like his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, but some said that they only said this in order for the people of North Korea to look up to him. He was known to be agitated with North’s ‘military first’ policy. Due to his father’s sudden death, his education was cut short and he became the new leader of a country. Many people predicted that due to his young age and no experience, the new leader would fall, but his father seemed to have planned it ahead of time and made sure he would be under the tutelage of his right-hand man Lee Yung-Ho and his sister.
After all the dust had settled down, China and Russia officially acknowledged the new leader’s system and the “Kim Dynasty” continued on. However, there is a chance that the brothers and sisters of the new leader might begin a fight for supremacy.
First is Kim Pyung-il who is only related through their father. Second is the younger sister, Kim Kyung-hee. Third is her husband, Jang Sung-tak. Last is Kim Jong-nam, brother of Kim Jong-eun. He must solve this problem before it takes place and he must also worry about the economical crisis that North Korea is currently facing. If he doesn’t deal with these problems then he will not be able to maintain a stable dynasty.
Maintaining order in a country may be better then changes for a new one, but it may also repeat its violent past. Kim Jong-il knew how to govern his country because of his experience and knowledge, but Kim Jong-eun is more of a political threat compared to his father. So, I wonder if we must keep supporting North Korea in order to maintain peace. Ideological differences and violence can cause conflict on the Korean Peninsula through nuclear attacks, but we must remember that they too are Koreans. It took a considerable amount of time, but North Korea accepted our delegation. If North and South were to unite, there are views that our nation would fall victim to an economical crisis for a few years. It is for this reason that many people are against reunification.
We must be prepared for reunification issues and circumstances because it will happen one day. When we are unified, plutocrats should offer donations. There will be an increase in taxes. A lot of resources in North Korea will be used to balance the nation’s economy. The problem of power distribution should also be planned for. The differences between political views should be understood like the difference between religions. I know there will be discrimination between South and North, just like how people discriminate against different races. We will have to accept it with an open mind because North Koreans are also like us. Like the Anabada (conserve, share, change, and reuse) campaign and the gold collecting campaign, we should demonstrate our hearts once again as we did during the IMF. I hope that the North and South can one day put our differences aside and become a larger and more successful Korea.
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